Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: January 28th 2014
Buy on: Amazon | B&N | BookDepository
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom—all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.
Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her. As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. But even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, could she refuse her duty to kill him?
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Cruel Beauty is a beautifully written book, which is loosely based on the story of The Beauty and the Beast and contain a lot of Greek mythology and according to the author also is based on the story of Cupid and Psyche , but I also found some similarities with the story of Bluebeard and Ruperstinski.
I must comment that the first part ( approx. 35% ) of the book is the world-building, the description of how Nyx end up engaged with the Gentle Lord (aka Ignifex), what happened to the kingdom of Arcadia in the last 900 years which is the time that of the Gentle Lord´s reigned, etc., so it may take a while to the story to pick up and for me it was when Nyx meets her husband Ignifex, but it was well worth that I continue reading this book, because it´s really a wonderful story.
Nyx Triskelion is a seventeen year-old girl and since she was nine years old she had know that she´s destined to marry a monster, because her father made a bargain with the Gentle Lord and the price was that one of his daughters became his wife once they reach adulthood, so all her life she had been told that she will marry the Gentle Lord and the she must find a way to destroy him and save the Kingdom of Arcadia. Nyx is smart, strong and very capable, but also according to her, she doesn´t has a pure heart because she feels resentment against her father for choosing her as a sacrifice, against her sister because she was chosen meanwhile Astraia (her fraternal twin sister) will live a normal life, besides she always has a lot of anger inside because of her situation, but she also has her vulnerable moments when she wants some gesture of love from her father; so she´s a complex character and I really liked her for been imperfect. One thing I like about her is that from the beginning she tells her husband that she is there to kill him.
Since the moment Nyx meets Ignifex, I really liked him a lot, although in the introduction of him they describe him like a demon, cruel and merciless meanwhile he´s actually a man who knows what he´s (a demon) and he doesn´t apologizes for it, from the beginning he sets the rules to his wife, what she may do or may not do, what places she can visit, what are the consequences and makes a deal with Nyx, but outside of that he never terrorise her or been mean with her, but he rather likes to joke with her and despite being the Demon Lord, he´s always honest with her.
And to complete the love triangle there is Shade, which is the Ignifex´s shadow and has the same physical appearance as Ignifex but in shades of gray, there were things I didn´t liked about him and most of the time I had certain theories about him, but between Ignifex and Shade and I´ll pick Ignifex!.
And I also must mention Nyx´s family, they´re horrible towards Nyx, I never liked them, with a father who sacrifices his own daughter without even flinching or showing remorse, nor any affection for Nyx and only sees her as an instrument for his revenge, while all his love is for Nyx´s twin sister. An aunt who like to expend all her time reminding Nyx about her duties as a daughter and that´s her duty to avenge the death of her mother and to save Arcadia. And to complete the Triskelion family is Ny´s twin sister - Astraia, she is cheerful, always with a smile on her face even on the wedding/sacrifice day of her sister, at first I liked her a little, but towards the end of the story not so much.
Overall, Cruel Beauty is a beautifully dark fairy tale with brilliantly flawed main characters, wonderful world-building and universe, with an unpredictable story and an unexpected ending (although I would not have minded if they had added an epilogue). I cannot wait to read Gilded Ashes, an e-novella that takes place in the same universe.
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.
"Nyx Triskelion," I said. "Daughter of Leonidas Triskelion".
"Hmm." He leaned closer. "I´ve seen prettier, but I suppose you´ll do"
"That's what makes you my favorite." He reached up and wiped a tear off my cheek with his thumb. "Every wicked bit of you.”
"If there´s one thing I´ve learn as the Lord of Bargains, it´s that knowing the truth is not always a kindness."